by Michelle Smith
Michelle Smith is a freelance writer who enjoys writing about a variety of topics ranging from marketing to productivity. Michelle encourages your feedback via email.
Tons of tools can help with productivity. Everything from email to Evernote to a good old pen and paper can help keep you focused while at your desk. But you’re not always at your desk (we hope, anyway). And there are tools you can use to boost your productivity no matter where you are. Try these unconventional methods, and add your productivity secrets in the comments below.
1. Take a nap
It might seem like a relic of grade school, when you didn’t have a 9-5 job that set your schedule. But as it turns out, napping is a great way to improve focus. According to a 2012 study, just a 10-minute daily nap resulted in improved energy levels and better cognitive performance – with results lasting up to 155 minutes. Similar benefits were also seen after 20-minute and 30-minute naps. Of course, not everyone’s work schedules allow for afternoon naps. If yours does, follow these tips to make the most of your naps.
- Keep naps relatively short – napping for longer than 30 minutes can lead to “sleep inertia,” the groggy feeling you get when you wake up from a deep sleep.
- Napping late in the day can interfere with your body’s regular sleep schedule, leading to insomnia or poor sleep at night. Try to nap in the late morning or early afternoon
Whether it’s a mid-day walk or a post-work gym session, exercise is a proven method for boosting productivity. Just how does exercise help you focus at work? For one, exercise makes you healthy – and healthier workers are usually more productive. When you’re not plagued by back pain or fatigue, you can get a lot more done. Exercise also lowers stress, eases symptoms of anxiety and depression, and improves self-confidence. To boost your productivity, aim to exercise at least 30 minutes a day. Some helpful hints:
- Try walking around your neighborhood, light weight training or riding a bike
- Start with small steps, like taking the stairs or parking farther away
- Use an activity monitor like the FitBit Flex or the Nike FuelBand to stay on track.
3. Play games
You might think playing games is the opposite of productive. But that’s not necessarily true. Done right, a little playtime is great for increased productivity. The trick? Choose games that stimulate as well as entertain. You have tons of options, from crossword puzzles and Sudoku to video games. In fact, many companies are incorporating gaming into their workday to boost employee efficiency and morale. Games work to improve productivity in two ways. First and most simply, it’s a reward – and rewards incentivize people to do more and better work. But gaming also has more tangible benefits:
- Video games can improve creative thinking, decision making and cognitive flexibility
- Crosswords, Sudoku and other “brain games” can strengthen memory, focus and problem-solving
Most of us are plugged in 24/7 to our phones, email accounts, social media and more. And that can lead to an overload of information – which ultimately results in lower productivity. To break the cycle and stay focused, unplug every now and then – both while you’re at work and at home. Turn off your phone, log out of your email and shut your laptop. Pay attention to what’s around you, whether it’s work, friends and family or your own thoughts. It will minimize distractions and help you focus on the task at hand. Unplugging from technology can even help you sleep better and be happier. What can you do while you’re unplugged? Try these activities to boost creativity:
- Keep a journal
- Read a book
So go ahead – take a break. Go for a walk, take a nap, play a game or turn off your phone. Chances are, you’ll be more relaxed and more productive.